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SEO is an important term that is continuously used to keep your website up-to-date on search engines. There is a wide range of services available online that you can use to keep your business up in front of a national audience.
But, what if you’re targeting internationally then you might face the issue of languages, yes?
Then, what is next? Should we stop targeting them?
No, this can’t be done! We do want traffic from international visitors also.
I know this is quite challenging to develop a website in multiple languages. You need to study and implement the best strategy to overcome these language issues while targeting international SEO.
One of the best practices to perform this term is to add hreflang tags to your website. While adding this tag into your website, the search engine will understand the pages of your website and deliver it to searchers in their respective languages.
Next, you must be thinking about how this hreflang attribute will work on your website. Not to worry, there are many easiest ways to insert and leverage these attributes into your website.
In the next segment of the article, you will learn about the hreflang tags and their importance in SEO. Further, how you can insert or use it on your website.
What is Hreflang Tags
It was introduced in 2011 by Google. A hreflang is an attribute that informs the languages of content on the page.
You can use it to target a particular country’s language and it’s the best source for websites providing content in various languages.
This tag is added in the header section of your website. Each tag should indicate the language and country of an individual page.
Here are the examples of hreflang tag:
From the above-mentioned URLs?
The first line is the default page for visitors who understand the language used on the website. Or not aware of languages specified on the website.
The second and third lines indicate the English and German language which is set for those visitors. Here, hreflang indicates the particular language and the href attribute tells about the URL.
It is compulsory to note that hreflang tags are only used for search engines. Hence, they are not visible to the end users.
It also enhances the website performance in terms of SEO and User Experience (UX) including the tags, title tags, and Meta descriptions.
Further, just a part of the information, the canonical tag and hreflang are not the same, as they are different from each other.
However, a canonical tag is an HTML element that informs the search engines that which part of the page is necessary to index.
Further, hreflang tag informs the search engines about its version of a page to be delivered in the different countries as per their searches.
Whereas Canonical tags eliminate content duplication issues. However, it becomes compulsory to serve the correct pages to visitors who speak different languages.
Also Read: How to Select a WordPress Theme
Advantages of using Hreflang Tags
It makes sure that your pages are indexing properly
It redirects the users to the correct versions of your website
Increases the traffic and conversions on the website
Organized the website
Your content is prepared to gain international traffic
Eliminates the competition between alternate web pages
Moreover, your Click through Rate – CTR will also improve from Search Engine Result Pages (SERP). A visitor who comes across with their native language or preferred language is more likely to click on the content and this will again increase the dwell time of the website.
How to Use Hreflang Tags
There are three technical ways that can be used to implement the hreflang attribute on the website. Before implementing the actual method, it’s important to know the three basic elements of hreflang tags.
- A language attribute must be in a two-letter country code which is known as the ISO 639-1 format. ISO is the short-term International Organization for Standardization.
- The value includes one language and can be added to any region. Further, you can use the ISO 3166 – 1 region codes to mention the region. It’s suggested to avoid confusion between two terms for example; the Greek language code is “el” and the region code is “gr”.
- For the second rule, you need to fix the return links pointing to the canonical versions. For example, if you’ve 30 languages then you need to have hreflang links for 30 URLs.
- Last but not least, self-links are essential because each language version must also list itself using a self–referential hreflang tag, which will help the page to bounce back to it.
Check below Three Methods for using Hreflang Tags
1. Use HTML Tags in <head> Sections
It’s mentioned above that one of the simplest ways to insert hreflang tags on your website is to insert them via HTML tags. Hence, this will become more hectic, if you’re targeting multiple languages.
Further, you can link each variation to every other variation. WordPress will create various database calls to generate these links. However, this could slow down your website, if you’re website consists of huge data and to eliminate this you’ve to opt for implementing the sitemap method.
To use this HTML method, you need to add hreflang tags into the header > section of every pages. For example; if you want to add English and German versions for the United States version of your website, then follow these codes:
2. Hreflang Tags in your HTTP Headers
If you want to add hreflang in non – HTML pages like PDFs. In this type of source, you won’t get a chance to add HTML code to place the tags in, in such situation; you can opt for HTTP headers instead.
The code would look like this:
From the above-mentioned code, you can add variants for English and German language. You can add each version in the headers of each PDF file.
3. Add Hreflang Tags to Your Sitemap
The next method of implementing the hreflang tags is using the XML sitemap markup. This method will help you to add the hreflang attributes to all website pages in one place.
By doing this your website speed will get improved (this will happen if you place tags in the header section of the pages). Moreover, changing the sitemap can be significantly easier than making corrections on each page in <head> tag.
A sitemap method is equal to the HTML <head> tag method, except the xhml:link attribute adds the hreflang annotations to every URL. Adding the xhtml;link attribute in the front of the URL will help you to add alternative page versions, so your markup would like this.
From the above-mentioned url, you can see that each url has a hreflang attribute and return links to the other URLs.
A unique <url> element is created for every URL. Each element must include a <loc> that highlights the page URL.
The URL also need a <xhtml;link rel=”alternate” hreflang=”supported_language-code”> element that lists each alternative version of the page.
You can include all important tags in one file. however, the order of the element is not necessary; it’s suggested to keep them uniform because this layout will make it easier to identify the mistakes. Ahead, you can submit your new sitemap to Google Search Console, after completing the process.
Here, we are done! Yes, you’re right; you’re done with hreflang attribute.
I hope you must have understood the concept and its method of implementation.
Try and implement each and every attribute on your website. However, this will increase the engagement rate on your website.
Optimize your website for the international audience to grab the attention of international users.